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Literature: Choke

"Just keep asking yourself: What would Jesus NOT do?"
Victor Mancini

Choke is a 2001 novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Victor Mancini spends his days working at a colonial theme park with his best friend, Denny. The duo, who suffer from sexual and masturbation addiction respectively, attend recovery meetings to tolerate the boredom. As Victor's mother suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and lives in a care home, Victor pays her hospital fees by intentionally choking on food in restaurants; as his "rescuers" both pity him and see him as evidence of their bravery, he manipulates them to milk from them for cash.

Choke was adapted into a film in 2008 directed and written by Clark Gregg starring Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston and Kelly Macdonald.


Contains examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Victor
  • Anachronic Order: Victor's flashbacks are told out of order
  • Arc Words isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind. See also: What would Jesus NOT do? See also: For serious. See also: For sure. See also: it's the martyrdom of Saint Me.
  • Becoming the Mask: Victor soon notes that, while sobbing onto his "rescuers" plays a large part in his act, he soon finds comfort in a stranger briefly hugging and calming him.
  • Body Horror: Victor notes that you have to be careful in the choking business, as the last thing you want is someone clearing your windpipe with a steak-knife to the trachea.
    • The end of the second act. One of Victor's sex partners insists on using sex toys on him, and ends up placing anal beads inside him; upon aggressively pulling them out, she notes two beads are missing, and Victor spends several chapters suffering from intestinal blockage.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: The film has one scene wherein Lord High Charlie, played by Clark Gregg, catches Victor (Sam Rockwell), with his pants down with "Ursula the Milkmaid's" hand on his penis. Ursula is Charlie's dream girl and so he is reasonably upset by this sight saying he can never look at her the same way again.
  • Clone Jesus
  • Code Emergency
  • Face on a Milk Carton
  • First-Person Smartass: Victor
  • Foreshadowing: A nurse condescendingly refers to Paige as Miss instead of Dr., and receives a lecture as a result. The reason the nurse was talking down to someone of high authority is because Dr. Paige is a patient allowed to live in her doctor delusion. Additionally, Victor attempts to figure out which car is hers, but cannot; it's because she doesn't leave.
    • Victor notes that Alzheimers gets to the point where sufferers can sometimes inhale food and choke to death or contract pneumonia. Come the conclusion, when his mother needs moving to the terminal wards, he feeds her pudding and she chokes to death.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Cherry Daiquiri, who ends up becoming friends with Victor and Denny.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Denny. Finally curbing his sex addiction, which had him masturbating uncontrollably, Denny starts collecting a rock to mark every day of being cold-turkey. This soon turns into a hoarding addiction he can't control.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Specifically that love/optimism/happiness is for chicks, and being stuck in a work cubical without danger or excitement means sex, masturbation and drugs are the only way to feel alive anymore.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Victor, by means of Stay in the Kitchen. Not only does he refer to emotions, love, optimism and relationships as "chick stuff", his lack of a relationship due to sex addiction means occasionally develops the mentality that committed women treat you like life support for a penis or wallet.
  • Snicket Warning Label:
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: Victor's mother, suffering from Alzheimer's, begins mistaking him for people such as her old lawyer, Fred.
  • Tomato Surprise: Victor is Jesus, and was created artificially through cells from a holy relic that was Jesus' apparent foreskin.
    • Paige lied about the diary's contents as she unable to read Italian. Additionally, she doesn't realize she is a patient on the mental illness ward, and wears a uniform and "works" because living out her delusion that she is a doctor from the future makes her more manageable for the staff.
  • The Untwist: Contrary to Tomato Surprise, Victor isn't Jesus. Paige lied to him, and his mother was a stranger that simply took him from his pushchair. invoked
  • "What Now?" Ending: Victor accidentally kills his mother, is arrested, and is run out of town by the people who fell for his scam. Doctor Marshall turns out to be an insane patient at the nursing home, but realizes it at the books' end. Denny's building/sculpture/masterpiece is destroyed by a freak earthquake. The four main characters are left standing in the ruins.
    • The movie has a slightly happier ending, with Victor's mom still dying and Victor realizing that Paige is a mental patient, but Victor's arrest is for the "rape" one of the mental patients is constantly accusing him of performing, which he is cleared for. He finds Paige and they have loving sex in a airport bathroom


The ChoirLit FicThe Cider House Rules
ChocolateFilms of 2005 - 2009 CJ 7
The Child ThiefLiterature of the 2000sChristmas Spirit

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